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Thread: How much time is usually put into getting a professional haunt together?

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  1. Default How much time is usually put into getting a professional haunt together? 
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    My Dad and I are planning on starting a professional haunt here in Utah and we are gathering as much info as possible to be fully prepared. We have been home haunting for 18+ years and my dad is retiring from firefighting next year and wants to start haunting on a bigger level. We usually take two months to get things together for our three night home haunt. We are trying to figure out how much time during the year do most pro haunters take to get their haunt together and running. Anyone out there with answers? I know that this question is very broad, but I hope that someone can help. Thanks!!!

  2. Default  
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Warsaw, IN
    15 months

    No Joke, first, I am not really professional, just run a not for profit's haunt for the past 3 years.

    We have to tear down each year and we do not have a big budget.

    About 2 months ago I started jotting down notes for 2010. As I built 2009, all the "next year we need to do......" items, thus the 15 months.

    So August Sept and Oct are improvement thinking for the next year, Nov is tear down and thank yous. December is figuring out conventions to attend. In January we make sure we can use the building were in and then design the maze with improvements from last year. Feb and March are spent perfecting the maze design, thinking up the scare scene, how to distract, position the guests, etc. April and May are spent setting our budget for that year. June is MHC and purchasing all that we need as far as props and electronics. July we start to build our own props, August we start to build the maze structure, September we paint and perfect the structure as well as decorate and add effects. October we finalize fire marshal inspection and arrange for all the things we need to borrow, tents, concession trailers. Also setting up volunteer actors.

    Basically it never stops.

  3. Default Ravens Grin Inn 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    I have worked on this place almost everyday now for 21 years.
    I waited for maybe 3 years before I sought any big/city publicity. ("You never get a second chance to make a first impression")
    My ads had no exaggerations, everything they promised was waiting here to be found.
    "Seven physical levels and the optional, guaranteed scare package."
    It might have helped bring people here when the Chicago Tribune writer questioned my truthfullness.

  4. Default  
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    im in the same place man i want to go pro but i dont know what it all takes to do so.

  5. Default  
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Columbia, SC
    I 110% agree with Boni. It's a never ending process. As the season rolls on now, I am literally emailing all the creative heads of our production as I type this! We're discussing things we can do to improve the show this year as well as new things for next year. We are all constantly doing our own things, crosschecking ideas via email, text messages and phone calls. December we call an official meeting. We are fortunate to have a permanent building and therefore we just improve on current sets and make changes as needed. We've already decided that most construction will be done and next year we will be focusing more on props, animatronics, makeup and costumes. Every production is different. It depends on the size of your attraction and what scale you plan on doing it. Scale would obviously depend on your manpower, the skill level and resources you have. Best of luck for your new haunt!
    O'Shawn McClendon
    Creative Chair -- Operator: Cayce-West Columbia Hall of Horrors

    One mans junk is another mans kick-ass new prop...






  6. Default  
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    What a great response!!! Thanks for the help everyone. My dad and I really want to do something on a smaller scale since this will be our first pro haunt. We want to make a big bang and a great impression our first time around as a pro haunt. The haunts around here are great, but we have some great new ideas that we know know one has in their haunts here locally. I would take it that if we want to make a great first impression that we should be working on our haunt as often as possible if we want to make it big. My Dad and I really have a passion for this and I would love to have this as a full time thing we could be participating in each year, but I want to know if there is any down side to making this a more full time thing in our lives. Halloween is on my mind all year long (as I expect it is for everyone else here), but I get afraid that once we go pro, it might become one of those mundane jobs. Any response to that?

  7. Default  
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by SInIsTer WOrKs View Post
    but I get afraid that once we go pro, it might become one of those mundane jobs. Any response to that?
    Not exactly, but it does become a job and involves things you probably don't want to do but have to. Business skills are much more important than scaring skills. You will find that you spend so much time behind the scenes troubleshooting that actually scaring anyone will be a distant memory.

  8. Default  
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Fords, New Jersey.
    This is our first year running a for profit charity haunt after home haunting for about 10 years. Our decision to open things up to a bigger crowd was a big step for us and it is a HUGE eye opener. There are a lot of things that I think people do not consider when they get started like insurance, safety, etc but if you take your time to do the research then I would encourage it. It's a labor of love for sure but what we learned is this:

    If you can find a charity to team up with then do so to start. It's just my opinion (because it worked well for us) and a suggestion I give to you but it has been vital to our success. Our charity had a large space that we were able to use to host the haunt at (which saved us money and time) and we were able to spread the word and obtain a lot of extra marketing help because of association with our charity.

    We started planning our haunt last October, attended a few trade shows and cons, took a few classes along the way to learn more about the business, effective ways to scare and more. We also read A LOT of books, purchased A LOT of DVDS to see what other haunts were doing etc..research was very important even if you know a lot of the tricks of the trade, you can never know enough.

    Depending on what you do you will need plenty of construction time. We started building our sets and wall panels in March of this year and have been building ever since. As far as set up of course the more time you have the better. We only had 1 week and it was stressful but I suppose this differs depending on your situation and agreements you have in place with people. It's a business first mentality for us and then comes the fun and maybe other people will disagree with that but I think you have to be a good manager at every aspect of your business/haunt and know what your working towards first because running a pro haunt sure has its difficulties that you will encounter.

    There are so many factors and it does become hard work if you do not have the right people helping you but if you have a good supporting cast, a business plan laid out and the right commitment which it sounds like you do then from what I have experienced this year I'd say anything is possible.

    We only had a small idea last October and we turned it into a reality in 13 months so hard work will pay off as long as you press forward and have a dedicated team helping you. It wasn't easy for us and we are still learning as we go but my only advice if you want it is just do the research first and reach out to anyone you can and learn all you can. Most everyone on here is open to sharing tips and tricks and has been very helpful to getting us where we are at this point...I'll let you know how successful it can be after the season haha!

    Good luck and please keep us posted on your progress.

    Grimlock Manor Haunted Attraction

  9. Default How to get started 
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    As everyone before me said, do your research! In preparation for opening my haunt next year, I chose to get involved with a local haunted hayride, so that I can see first hand what it takes to run and work at a haunt. I designed a graveyard scene for them, let them use my props, and I also scare patrons in their Q-line. This way, I get a taste of what it's like, and I get to see first hand how it runs, the problems they have, and how many people get through the line.

    The other advice I have is to visit every haunt you can. I have spent every Saturday night for the last month travelling to neighboring states to see the bigger haunts, such as Graystone Manor, Atrox, Spookywoods, and Netherworld. The owners of these attractions have been great about sharing information, giving advice, and some have even given tours of their haunt. I have found that the people in this industry are truly helpful.

    Having said all of that, you have to do your research. Don't expect anything to be given to you, and earn other's respect by doing the legwork yourself.

    Good luck!

  10. Default  
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Bartlett, TN
    Some advice on visiting haunts...don't just focus on the big high budget ones. Unless you have a huge budget as well, you won't be doing what they do, at least at the start. Visit big haunts, small haunts, charity haunts, for profit haunts, well run haunts, poorly run haunts, creative haunts, lackluster haunts...every single one of them will have things to teach you, both positves and negatives.

    I go to a lot of haunts ranging from yard haunts to big budget productions. With every single time I visit a haunt, I always try to walk away with 3 dos and 3 don'ts. I've ended up with a pretty good list off of that. What things do I really like from the haunt, or what lessons do they teach? What places do I see where I say "I'd do that different." When starting, you have a vision of what you want to accomplish, but keep an open mind as you see what others do.

    There are three rules to designing a haunt. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.

    Website: www.HauntedMidsouth.com
    Haunt: www.ScarecrowTheater.com

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